This Week in Blockchain Research Issue #43

Issue #43

Issue #43

Paper of the Week:

Paper Title: All that Glitters is not Bitcoin – Unveiling the Centralized Nature of the BTC (IP) Network.


  1. This paper takes a complementary analysis approach of BTC, focusing both on the network side of the BTC P2P network, as well as on the ledger side of the BTC blockchain network.

  2. First, it characterize the BTC active nodes of the underlying P2P network, and study their main properties. This can be highly useful for multiple relevant use cases, including security, performance and anomaly detection, as well as relevant nodes discovery - i.e., identifying and locating the BTC miners.

  3. Next, it studies the distribution of BTC coins among independent BTC entities, being an entity either a single BTC address holding BTC coins, or a group of BTC addresses controlled by the same actor.

  4. Following that, this work presents a technique to discover the nodes of the BTC P2P network, based on active measurements.

  5. The paper clearly shows that despite the so much advertised decentralized and uncontrolled nature and underlying paradigm of BTC, the system is a highly concentrated one, in every sense.

  6. The size of the BTC network has remained almost constant during the last 12 months – since the major BTC price drop in early 2018.

  7. In terms of network infrastructure, 36% of the nodes are hosted by only 5 major cloud providers in EU and US, and 50% of the nodes reside in only 3 countries; in terms of mining activity, almost 50% of all BTC blocks are mined by 4 major mining pools in China; at last, the Gini index – i.e., a typical measure of income distribution –, of BTC coins distribution among independent entities is extremely high, i.e., above 0.98, with only 4.5% of all BTC entities holding more than 85% of all mined BTC coins so far.

Authors: Sami Ben Mariem*†, Pedro Casas*, Matteo Romiti*, Benoit Donnet†, Rainer Stutz*, and Bernhard Haslhofer*,

Affiliations: *AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and †Universitede Liege.


1. Paper Title: RSA and redactable blockchains.

Summary: A simple method of constructing redactable blockchains inspired by the ideas underlying the well-known RSA encryption scheme.

AuthorsDima Grigoriev* and Vladimir Shpilrain†,

Affiliations: * CNRS and † CUNY.

2. Paper Title: Wibson Protocol for Secure Data Exchange and Batch Payments.

Summary: A new market-based approach that leverages the latest developments in blockchain, cryptography and market design to connect data consumers (companies, organizations) and data owners (essentially, individuals).

Authors: Daniel Fernandez*, Ariel Futoransky†, Gustavo Ajzenman*, Matias Travizano* and Carlos Sarraute*,

Affiliations* Wibson and † Disarmista


1. Paper Title: Metal: A Metadata-Hiding File-Sharing System.

Summary: The first cryptographic file-sharing system that hides both user identities and file access patterns both from the server and from malicious users.

AuthorsWeikeng Chen* and Raluca Ada Popa*,

Affiliations: * UC Berkeley.

2. Paper Title: A Blockchain-Based Approach for Saving and Tracking Differential-Privacy Cost.

Summary: A blockchain-based system to track and manage differential-privacy cost, which uses blockchain to make the privacy spending transparent to the data owner.

Authors: Yang Zhao*, Jun Zhao*, Jiawen Kang*, Zehang Zhang*, Dusit Niyato*, and Shuyu Shi†,

Affiliations* Nanyang Technological University and † Nanjing University.


1. Paper Title: Anchoring the value of Cryptocurrency.

Summary: A financial model for blockchain sharding that will build an active link between the value of cryptocurrency and computation resources as well as the market and labour behaviours.

AuthorsYibin Xu*, Yangyu Huang†, and Jianhua Shao*,

Affiliations: * Cardiff University and † Guilin University of Electronic Technology.

2. Paper Title: Nonlinear Blockchain Scalability: a Game-Theoretic Perspective.

Summary: A formal framework and proof that no blockchain system can achieve full verification, high scalability, and low finality-duration simultaneously.

Authors: Lin Chen*, Lei Xu†, Zhimin Gao‡, Keshav Kasichainula§, and Weidong Shi§,

Affiliations* Texas Tech University, † University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, ‡ Auburn University, and § University of Houston.


1. Paper Title: An authentication protocol based on chaos and zero knowledge proof.

Summary: This paper offers three novel port knocking prototypes: zero knowledge proofs and chaos-based cryptography; a combination of chaos-based cryptography and random beacons; and ‘Crucible’ which is combines random beacons and password-based key derivation.

Authors: Will Major*, William J Buchanan*, and Jawad Ahmad*,

Affiliations: * Edinburgh Napier University.


No papers.


1. Paper Title: Price Discovery and Microstructure in Ether Spot and Derivative Markets.

Summary: Does off-chain trading on ether derivatives play a dominant role in ether spot price discovery, thereby driving ether’s utility value for on-chain activity?

AuthorsCarol Alexandera*, Jaehyuk Choic†, Hamish R. A. Massiea*, and Sungbin Sohnc†,

Affiliations: * University of Sussex Business School and † Peking University.

2. Paper Title: Transactional Scripts in Contract Stacks.

Summary: Jurists should situate scripts within other legally operative statements and disclosures, or contract stacks. Precision about the relationship between script and stack sustains a novel framework, rooted in old doctrines of interpretation, parol evidence and equity, that will help jurists compile answers to the private law problems that digitized exchange entails.

AuthorsShaanan Cohney* and David A. Hoffman*,

Affiliations: * University of Pennsylvania.

3. Paper Title: The Theory of Granularity: A Path for Antitrust in Blockchain Ecosystems.

Summary: The “theory of granularity,” which permits analysis of the roles played by each (group of) participant in the horizontal governance of public permissionless blockchains. On this basis, one may identify a “blockchain nucleus,” i.e., a set of participants collaborating to ensure and maximize the blockchain survival by “controlling” it all together. Antitrust and competition law becomes applicable again as the nucleus serves as the basis for the definition of the relevant market and market power, the assessment of practices’ legality, and liability assignment.

AuthorsThibault Schrepel*,

Affiliations: * Harvard University.

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“Significant research in the blockchain space is constantly being achieved by academic researchers. Unfortunately, a lot of this research is overlooked due to the massive numbers of papers being generated and the way they are being promoted and published. We’ve put together a categorized list of academic papers that can guide our subscribers and keep them up to date.”

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